A child’s zip code should not determine his or her success in life. Those of us advocating for affordable housing have known this for a long time. Thanks to a new local initiative, the idea of opportunity for all is becoming a reality.

The Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative is a community-wide effort focused on improving the quality of life of residents and its workforce through education by collectively aligning resources and working towards common goals. Using the Cincinnati-based program Strive as a model, Cradle for Career brings together community leaders, non-profits, businesses, and local governments to build and implement strategies that will facilitate widespread systematic change. The ultimate goal is to increase student success and economic prosperity for the region by preparing children for employment in the local workforce.

According to South Carolina First Steps, one in seven SC children are not ready for first grade; in some areas of the state, this number increases to one in four. Research shows that children who are unprepared for first grade have greater difficulty succeeding in school, have a higher drop out rate, and are unqualified for employment in the modern workforce.

Cradle to Career focuses on children at an early age, preparing them for kindergarten and supporting them throughout their education, working with them through graduation from high school and preparing them for post-secondary education or employment. The initiative will utilize data to examine the various factors that influence a child’s readiness and success in and out of the classroom.

Michelle Mapp, CLF’s executive director and a member of Cradle to Career’s Board of Directors says “I view the Collaborative as an opportunity to align issues such as housing, health care, access to food, and economic development to education while we work toward the common goal of improving the quality of life for all tri-county residents.”

For more information on the Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative, please visit theirwebsite.